For many years motor racing pitstops were fairly relaxed affairs, even though they were always crucial to a team winning a race or not. Depending on the race duration, amongst other things, they could include tyre changes, driver changes, refuelling and repairs, where a few men did many jobs during a stop.
In fact, in the early days of motor racing when mid-race servicing was needed, it was common for drivers to pull into the pits, turn off the engine, get out of the car and even smoke a cigarette as the crew took their time changing tyres and servicing the cars.
This all changed at the 1963 Daytona 500, when Wood Brothers Racing who was famous for running the number 21 car in the American NASCAR series, developed what was described as choreographed pit stops which reduced the amount of time their car spent in pit lane. Consequently, their driver Tiny Lund who spent minimal time in the pits went on to win the race and Wood Brothers Racing were credited with inventing the modern-day pit stops.
Then for the 1965 Indianapolis 500, Ford contracted Wood Brothers Racing to service Scottish Formula 1 driver Jim Clarke’s Lotus 38, which brought their new form of fast pit stops to open-wheel racing. Clarke went on to win the race with an average speed of 150.69 miles per hour which was a new Indianapolis world record and Ford’s first Indianapolis win.
In F1, pit stop strategy and time taken has become crucial to a team’s ultimate success. In recent years Red Bull Racing has proven to be the fastest with the three quickest pit stops ever, all in 2019: At the British Grand Prix they completed the third fastest stop of 1.91 seconds for Pierre Gasly; later that year at the German Grand Prix, Max Verstappen had a 1.88 second stop which is the second-fastest stop ever; and then at the second to last race of the year, the Brazilian Grand Prix, Max Verstappen pitted for a mere 1.82 seconds, making it the fasted ever F1 pit stop.
F1 pit stops have changed much over the years, due to tyre regulations and for the 2010 series onward, re-fuelling was banned to enable teams to reduce costs and for obvious safety reasons.
Although pit stops of today are much quicker than in the earlier years of the sport, they are still entertaining and can make or break a team’s chances of winning.
This video looks at 10 of the top F1 Pit stops gone wrong for a variety of reasons.